Netherlands Travel Tips- 15 things to know before you go.

The last-minute detour from Istanbul to Amsterdam to meet our buddy Keerthi is one of the best decisions we ever made in our life. We may not be the masters of the Netherlands, but Keerthi, who is living in Amsterdam since 2013, is. So the hacks and tips here are mostly by Keerthi and partly by us.

Here are 15 things you must know before travelling to the land of Tulips-Netherlands.

Indian travellers at Zaabse Schans with wind mills in the background
THAT IS US AND KEERTHI @ ZANSE SCHANS

Index

  1. Netherlands Tourist Visa for Indians
  2. Coffee Shops Are Different to Cafes
  3. Safety & Scams
  4. Currency
  5. Using Debit and Credit Card.
  6. Cell Phone Network and Wifi
  7. Type of Power sockets
  8. Public Hygiene and Toilets
  9. Roads and Transport
  10. Food and Beverages
  11. Alcohol and Smoking
  12. People and Language
  13. What to see in the Netherlands and when?
  14. Tipping Culture.
  15. Is it a budget-friendly country for tourists?

How to get Netherlands tourist Visa?

Indian citizens are eligible for E-Visa and Visa on arrival in less than 60 countries. The Netherlands being one of the Schengen countries, required Indians to get a Schengen Visa. Getting it may not be an easy task because an Indian must submit almost 30 pages of documents and appear for a personal interview at the embassy. So it is never possible for Indians to convert that 24-36 hour layover at Schipol airport into a random day trip to Amsterdam.

Reflection of traditional dutch house with sloping roof in water at Giethoorn

With your Schengen Visa, you can visit all 26 countries. However, suppose the Netherlands is the first country of your landing during your Europe trip, you need to get a Visa from the Netherlands embassy through Vfs Global. As we would be landing in Greece first, we got Schengen Visa from Greece and then went to Holland with the same visa.

What do coffee shops mean in the Netherlands?

Sidewalk cafe full of visitors by the sidewalk of busy Amsterdam roads

Amsterdam Cafes and Coffee shops are two different things – What you see in the pic above is a cafe.

If you are looking for some cheese crackers or banana bread with coffee, you go to Cafes. Coffee shops are where you get Cannabis ( Gaanja). Read our post: Amsterdam and Drugs to know more about how does Amsterdam’s drug policy work

DISCLAIMER-We does not encourage the consumption of drugs in any form. Anything overdone is harmful to health. We don’t encourage any type of drug consumption. It is part of Amsterdam’s life. We are just narrating our thoughts here.

Is the Netherlands safe for toursts?

The Netherlands stands in 21st place on Global Peace Index. One of the safest countries for all types of travellers is the Netherlands. Many may have mistaken Amsterdam to be unsafe for a solo woman because of the Red Districts and rules favouring drugs. But it is safe. Though there are almost zero terror attacks on the Netherlands, be up to date with happenings like you do when travelling to other safe countries. The Netherlands is the first country to legalise same-sex marriage before Belgium.

How can I avoid being scammed in the Netherlands?

Keerthi says,” Selling Rice flour in the name of Gaanja AKA Hemp powder” is the biggest scam in Amsterdam. Many youngsters will be looking for weed and hash at cheaper rates. So the dl literally coloured Rice flour which has got a similar texture to the drugs. If you buy rice floor thinking it is hemp, fine – You just lost money. Some dealers sell adulterated drugs too. First of all, overdosage is fatal. To top is if you buy adulterated ones, it is beyond faal. 

Can you take space cakes home from Amsterdam?

The bizarre thing I saw in De Wallen street coffee shops is – souvenirs with Cannabis! Like really? Do you want to take brownies baked with weed/cannabis as a souvenir back home? Unless you eat those brownies baked with weed, don’t buy them as souvenirs for your friends back home, no matter what the shopowners and workers say. You know well what happens to those carrying drugs who get caught airport.

The fake two-way train ticket by Dutch Travel Agents.

Another famous scam is the so-called “agents” who sell train tickets. Firstly, you don’t need an agent to buy train tickets. Secondly, they are not government-authorised agents. Buy the tickets yourself either online or at stations. Many agents may sell you tickets, saying it’s two-way. But the tickets will be valid for only one way. 

You should be aware of the common scams in any country you travel – Taxi fares, horse chariots, overpriced restaurants. Pickpocketing isn’t a threat in residential areas; beware of thieves in De Wallen streets.

Does Netherlands use Euro?

Yes. You can’t exchange INR for Euros once you are in the Netherlands. You may be asked to show the proof of hard cash sometimes at the Immigration office at airports. So you have to carry some hard cash in Euros from your countries. In Bangalore, I prefer to buy it from SLN Forex.

Does the Netherlands accept credit cards?

Netherlands Travel tips for currency -Cash is king in the Netherlands countryside.

Master Credit and debit cards work almost everywhere. Most restaurants and departmental stores accept card payments. However, while travelling to villages and farmhouses, you must pay in cash. Plus, to use washrooms in cafes/grocery stores, you have to pay in cash if you aren’t buying anything from there. So keep some change handy.

Which network is best in the Netherlands?

We bought two Cosmote Mobile SIMs for each of us in Greece. The plan we opted for included international roaming in the Schengen countries and a good data pack. It worked perfectly throughout Greece, Netherlands and Belgium. So make sure to opt for international data roaming packages when you buy any of these two SIMs in any Schengen country.

Do I need a plug adapter for the Netherlands?

Netherland uses Type C & Type E power sockets ( Two Round pins). Therefore, Indians need to carry a Travel adapter.

How Clean Is Netherlands?

Amsteleven neighbourhood with garbage chutes

Dutches are considered ” Clean freaks” – both in Personal and Public Hygiene. Most neighbourhoods have different Garbage bins used for different types of waste, and most of them are Garbage Chutes. Being Dutch, it is obvious that they segregate the waste properly. Tap water is good for drinking.

Why are Dutch toilets weird?

The hilarious part in Amsterdam was public urinal cabins for men but no public toilets for women. But where do men go pooping? Both men and women must go to either grocery stores, cafes or restaurants. You won’t find anything like Public toilets as such. You can use any restaurant toilet by paying 0.5Euros ( That is almost 40 INR!. Paying 40 INR to pee and poop is a lot for us). All EWCs are with tissue papers and no jet spray. Don’t forget to observe that weird Dutch toilet bowl – Your poop doesn’t fall into the hole directly, but travels through the pot and gets into the hole at the end!

Does the Netherlands have good roads?

Dutches follow Right lane driving like most of its neighbouring countries. Needless to say, the roads are well maintained and kept free of potholes most of the time. After every winter, cycle lanes will need a major repair. and they do it religiously.

Is driving in the Netherlands easy?

Netherlands Travel tips for your road trip – Make a lot of them, especially in the countryside.

Renting cars in Amsterdam is easier if you have an international DL. Read our post “A road trip between two Schengen Countries” to know more. Finding a car parking spot was a headache for us in Amsterdam. So ditch the cars exploring the city – Go walking/cycling or take a tram. Cars are best for inter-city travelling only.

The least told Netherlands Travel tips – You can rent a boat and go self-driving in the canals!

Is the Amsterdam airport good?

Amsterdam Schipol airport is the biggest in the nation and the third-largest in Europe. It is one of the world’s 15 busiest airports. So whether it is a layover or landing in the country, you must prepare yourself to face the crowd and moving passengers.

As a tourist in this wonderfully small nation, you may not need domestic flights at all unless it is an emergency. Public transport and private transports work efficiently and are cheaper than airways.

Does Amsterdam airport have an automated baggage check-in system?

Yes. So carrying extra luggage in one trolley and less in the bother to make it up to the upper limit of allowed weight doesn’t work here. Make sure your luggage doesn’t exceed even 50gm more than the allowed limit.

Is Netherlands public transport good?

Dutch Railways

Unique Netherlands Travel tips – Whether you are taking a train or not, visit Amsterdam Central station – The architecture is magnificent and it is crazy to watch people here.

Amsterdam train services are very efficient for intercity and even international travelling. However, during the peak season of June to August and the Tulip season of March to April, consider reserving the seats prior. Look for combo tickets that work for group travellers. A Eurail pass isn’t worth it if you travel only in one country for less than a week with scheduled arrival/departure dates. In this case, buying Seasonal tickets or OV Chip cards is more economical. Go through Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) website thoroughly and choose the combos among various options wisely.

How does public transport work in the Netherlands?

Most of the countryside gets connected by public buses from the nearest train stations. OV Chip cards work best for the buses along with trains and trams. Flixbus and National express are the companies that provide coach buses between cities like Pari – Brussels and Amsterdam.

Trams and Metro in the Netherlands

Our buddy Keerthi says that the Metro connectivity is decent in the Netherlands, but not as great as Pari/London. Only Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam have Metro connectivity. So to get to your exact locality, you may have to use bicycles from the Metro station.

Trams are the most efficient, quickest and cheapest way to get around the four big cities of the country – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hague, and Utrecht. Of these, Amsterdam has the widest network.

Is public transportation free in Netherlands?

It works on an honesty system – That means you must buy tickets. But you may/may not be checked by officers always. As of 2021, buying tickets on board from the conductor isn’t valid anymore. So check here for the latest update on buying Tram tickets.

Is Netherlands good for cycling?

More than the roads for vehicles, we should talk about the cycle lanes of Holland. There are exclusive cycle lanes throughout the country. Super cheap, super healthy and exclusive cycle tracks make it the best mode of transport here. The Netherlands is the country with the highest number of bicycles per capita in the world. Renting cycles is super easy but make sure to check the lock to your cycles twice! Most budget hotels and hostels rent out bicycles on an hourly/daily basis. Other than this, Keerthi recommends Bim Bik bike (the company works in Athens, Barcelona, Berlin and a few more European cities too) or OV-fiets.

What kind of food is the Netherlands known for?

Cheese factory at Zanse Schans

Cheese, cheese and cheese! Though vegetarians may not find various Dutch food, you can survive here better than you do in Iran. Keerthi has figured out to tweak some of the Non-veg dishes into veg dishes like Hutspot. It is Mashed potato boiled with Carrot and onion is usually given with meat but goes well with the bread too. Pancakes are available at most of the cafes. For meat lovers, the smoked sausages are served with different soups and veggie dips. Dutch breakfast is usually bread and cheese.

In general, restaurants and cafes are expensive in the Netherlands. So we used to cook at Keerthi’s home and carry it usually. The only time we ever ate was at Keerthi’s favourite restaurant –Wok to Wok(A Chinese cuisine). Other times we managed with Croissants and tiger bread with cheese /yoghurt from Albert Hein.

Do people in the Netherlands drink coffee?

They love coffee more than tea. Hot chocolate is preferred over coffee in winter.

Can you smoke in Netherlands?

Smoking in any public area, inside public transport, is prohibited. The cafes and restaurants, and train stations have designated smoking areas. Beer is Dutches’ choice of drink. The most famous brewery is Heineken; Keerthi prefers Amstel. We loved Bruges Zot more than anything else.

How would you describe Dutch culture?

Netherlands Travel tips – Pay street artists to take their photo

After spending more than 5 years in Holland, our buddy Keerthi says :

The Dutches are not rude but direct. What you hear from them is what they feel inside. You can expect Hi, Hello, and good morning from strangers, but conversations with strangers rarely go beyond that. “
Saying that, don’t think they don’t help you when you ask for directions on the streets. They just tell you what they are supposed to tell you. Then, they walk away with a tight smile. “Oh, you are a tourist; which country are you from? Nice to meet you, Lalalalala” kind of conversations are unlikely to happen.

Are the Dutch known for being rude?

Suppose they feel you look sickly; they directly ask, ” You look sick. Are you OK?” So now, it is up to you if you want to get offended that they called you sick or be happy that they wanted to check on you. Basically, there is no filtering/polishing between mind and tongue. Don’t expect them to be super friendly and smiling at hotels, cafes and restaurants. They will do their job and leave you by yourself. Privacy is what they prefer most for themselves and others. Like in many countries, we brown people face racism here too. I wouldn’t use the word harassed but insulted for our appearance.

Is the Netherlands a religious country?

The Netherlands is one of the least religious countries in Europe. Protestant and Catholic Christians are common. The next major religion is Islam. Jews are a minority community.

What language do the Dutch talk?

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. English is also widely spoken. The street signboards are in both English and Dutch.

What to see in the Netherlands

What is the best month to go to the Netherlands?

If you are looking for Tulip season, it is from March to April end. Ya ou may find few websites stating Tulip season goes up to May end, but it is not true. We landed in Amsterdam on May 18th, and all the tulip fields were already harvested. The weather from May to June is cold without snowfall and fewer tourists with no Tulip and the lowest prices for hotels. June to August is summer and the highest peak of tourists with the best weather, but prices are high in summers.

What is the best part of the Netherlands?

Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans, and Geithoorn are amazing and common places tourists go. Spending 10-12 days in the Netherlands is ideal if you add more places like – Hoge Veluwe National Park, Maastricht, Haarlem and Volendam apart from just Amsterdam and its surroundings.

Apart from Amsterdam, Keerthi’s favourite remains the villages where you can stay in farmhouses and experience the countryside Charm. These are his picks to be the best of the Netherlands

  • Assen & Hoofddorp –Keerthi’s idea of spending weekends when he wants a break from Amsterdam’s buzzing city are these small towns. When you look at the pictures, it looks similar to the canal streets of Amsterdam. But these villagers are greener and quieter.
  • Rotterdam – the modern Netherlands with plenty of pubs and nightclubs. Plus, cube houses and graffiti streets give you a hipster vibe.
  • Utrecht is similar to Dam, but with fewer tourists.
  • Urk – The fishing town is unique from all the other countryside towns and a great place for swimming in summer.

Do you tip taxi drivers in Netherlands?

I paid two Euro to get clicked with Captain Jack Sparrow

It is expected neither at restaurants nor in the taxis. Dutches leave a tip only when they are extremely happy with the service. You find plenty of street performers near Dam Square. If you want to click them, pay them.

How expensive are things in the Netherlands?

AMSTERDAM IS FULL OF HOSTELS and BnB! The Netherlands is one of the best countries for backpacking and flashpacking. It is easy to book everything in prior, through regular websites like Booking.com, Make My Trip and Air BnB. More than all these, it is the best place for hostels! We had booked the Wow Amsterdam hostel before our buddy Keerthi insisted of staying with him. You can make your Netherlands trip totally pocket-friendly by staying in these hostels or opt for luxury to mid-range hotels / BnBs. Everything and anything is possible in this compact country. Make sure to book the rooms in advance during peak seasons.

Netherlands Travel tips to save budget – Don’t eat in expensive restaurants – Rely on supermarket food.

If you cook at a hostel or at home, you can save a lot. However, suppose you are bored of cooking on a trip, supermarkets like Albert Heijn are your best friends. They sell fresh bread, fruits, ready-to-eat soups and so on at reasonable rates. Buying public transport cards like OV Chip cards, using bicycles instead of Uber taxis, and buying NS railway combo instead of Eurail passes for your short stay in only the Netherlands are the other ways to cut down on the expenses.

Have more Netherlands Travel tips to share? Let us know in the comment section below.

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